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OMG! Live Search Cashback is Actually Effective!

As you know, I’m quick on the trigger when it comes to giving Microsoft’s search incentive programs a hard time. Well, I try to be fair and balanced. With that in mind (gulp), Live Search Cashback might actually be working!

You heard me. New data from Hitwise suggests that Microsoft’s master plan is showing signs of success.

Eleven weeks ago, MSN Cashback represented 3.75% of the traffic to and grew to 6.29% last week. This rise in Cashback’s traffic underscores the interest in the program, which is likely to be getting a boost from shoppers looking to save money and stretch their budgets given the current economic climate.

And, while Live Search is not showing any increased market share, it’s audience share is stable–suggesting that perhaps Live Search Cashback is helping!

Facebook Grows 50%; MySpace Still #1; Social Networking Traffic Declines 17% Overall

OK, Facebook, what do you want first? The good news, or the bad news?

The good news? Well, the good news is that, according to Hitwise, you’ve grown your US share of social networking sites by a massive 50%, in the past year. w00t!

Now for the bad news. MySpace still has a 67.54% market share, compared to your relatively meager 20.56% slice.

Oh, and there’s some bad, bad news. Total traffic to social networking sites declined 17% year-over-year. I guess there’s just only so much sheep-throwing and whale-failing we can handle.

Hey, don’t shoot the messenger! And, even if you do want to shoot the messenger, it’s Hitwise–not this Pilgrim.

Why I Think the New “Pop-Up” Study is Flawed

Ars Technica has details of a new study from the excellent (yes, I’m biased) Psychology Department of North Carolina State University. Basically, they created a series of “pop-up” windows designed to look like system messages, but could easily have been viruses.

The results?

Of the 42 students, 26 clicked the OK button for the “real” dialog. But 25 clicked the same button for two of the fakes, and 23 hit OK on the third (the one with the status bar showing). Only nine of them closed the window—two fewer than had closed the real dialog. In all cases, a few of the users simply minimized the window or dragged it out of the way, presumably leaving the machine’s next user at risk.

Blogosphere Grows, Posting Slows

Two weeks ago, I gave a class on blogging. No, don’t worry, you didn’t miss the announcement and the chance to rub elbows with my fabulousness, it was a class for my sister’s church, as only a handful of people had expressed interest. She and I weren’t sure anyone would come at all. However, nearly twice as many people as we expected showed up. Of those, only one didn’t have a blog.

This year’s State of the Blogosphere report from Technorati says that blogs have “arrived”—”blogs are a global phenomenon that has hit the mainstream.” Last issued in April 2007, the S/B is an annual yardstick of the trends in the world of blogging at large.

Google AdWords: Guaranteed to Make You 16% Bigger!

OK, we’re PG13 at Marketing Pilgrim, so I’m not going to take the above cheekiness any further. That said, it is accurate. According to new research from Google and Millward Brown, securing the top spot on Google AdWords can increase the unaided awareness of your brand. Take a look at the brand increase achieved by Sprint:

Q: Thinking about companies that offer wireless phone services, which companies come to mind?

As you can see, Sprint achieved a 16% increase in brand awareness by securing the #1 position on Google AdWords.

Other interesting observations?

  • Securing the top spot also resulted in an 8% decrease in brand awareness for Sprint’s competitors.
  • Even if your AdWords ad only shows-up in the side-bar, you’ll see some brand lift.

Blogs (HUH): What Are They Good For?

If someone asked you today what your blog does for your site and your business, what would you say? MarketingSherpa asked almost 4000 people the same question (free access for a limited time). The number one response? The blog “improves our web presence through search/feeds.”

Other important benefits from blogs cited in the survey included access to journalists and customers, establishing thought leadership, and generating leads: marketing sherpa chart: what blogs are good for

MarketingSherpa cited three important factors that contributed to a blog’s success:

  1. Genuine, heartfelt content
  2. Regular updates
  3. Focus

As with personal blogs, corporate blogs need to find a niche, engage readers and keep them reading. Content feels “genuine” when blog posts “stand out in contrast to the massaged language of corporate marketing and PR materials. Like sitting next to an expert on a plane, the best blogs provide highly useful information in a brief and informal setting.”

Search Spend Growth Drops Below 30%; Mocks the Recession

Take a look at these two headlines:

U.K. SEM Spend Slows, Signaling Market Maturity

JPMorgan analyst lowers online ad forecast, says economic weakness hurting Internet

Time to call it quits as an online marketer and find a new job? Hardly!

Whenever you see headlines like this, be sure to read the entire article. In this case, you’d see that the "weakness" and "slows" in online advertising are still much healthier than other industries; say real estate or the auto industry.

So, what’s up with the state of the online advertising industry? Well, in the UK…

[E-consultancy’s] 2008 search engine marketing buyer’s guide, released this week, predicts that SEM spend in the U.K. will rise by 24 percent in 2008, down from 58 percent year on year growth in 2007 and 65 percent growth in 2006.